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newbie question: multiple possessives & adjectives

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Re: newbie question: multiple possessives & adjectives

Postby kurisuto » Tue 10.06.2009 5:44 pm

Hektor6766 wrote:I think my problem with word order comes from thinking of adjectives in the western sense. Would I be right in saying that Japanese has no true adjectives, only adjectival nouns and descriptive verbs? That adjectival nouns precede the direct object, and that auxiliary descriptive verbs follow the object and precede the main verb, unless the な construction is used?


I'm not sure what you mean by that : na-adjectives are sometimes called "adjectival nouns", and i-adjectives are sometimes called "stative verbs" (although it seems rare), but adjectives in general modify nouns (a word class), not necessarily direct objects (a grammatical function), and in any case, the adjective comes before the noun when it's used as an attributive (赤い車, きれいな車), and after the noun when it's used as a predicative (車は赤い, 車はきれい). Just like in English.

astaroth wrote:I'm kind of confused ... I thought it was 新しくて赤い ... is it therefore correct to write 新しい赤い?is it like using the masu-stem form instead of the te-form to link two sentences together?


In the right context, it's grammatically correct : just like in English you can say "a new red car", you can say 新しい赤い車 (i.e it doesn't mean that the car happens to be new and red, it means that this red car is new), with the same word order. I'm not sure that's a good thing, but I can't help but seeing 赤い車 as a noun (赤車 if you wish), with 新しい modifying it as in a normal adjective+noun construction. In other words, I think it should be analysed as [新しい[赤い車]], as opposed to [[新しくて赤い]車] .

I've not seen it used often by the way, but maybe that's due to my lack of exposure to the language.
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Re: newbie question: multiple possessives & adjectives

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Tue 10.06.2009 6:14 pm

Hektor6766 wrote:I think my problem with word order comes from thinking of adjectives in the western sense. Would I be right in saying that Japanese has no true adjectives, only adjectival nouns and descriptive verbs?


There is some truth to this. The main difference between 高い in Japanese and "expensive" in English is that 高い carries the copula within it and so means "is expensive"; thus it can stand alone as a sentence without any additional "verb", and something like 高い本 is really just a specific case of the general rule in Japanese grammar that "plain-style sentence + noun = noun modified by the sentence"

And as you imply, a so-called "na-adjective" like きれい is grammatically identical to a "noun" like 先生 with the single exception that it links to another noun with な rather than の.
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Re: newbie question: multiple possessives & adjectives

Postby astaroth » Wed 10.07.2009 8:30 am

kurisuto wrote:In other words, I think it should be analysed as [新しい[赤い車]], as opposed to [[新しくて赤い]車] .

I see. That makes sense. Thanks.
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Re: newbie question: multiple possessives & adjectives

Postby Hektor6766 » Thu 10.08.2009 1:37 am

Again, thank you for your patience.

I'm sorry for my lack of clarity. I was referring to the adjectives (adjectival nouns, descriptive or stative verbs) modifying the noun that is the direct object, the car.

I also referred to は as the D.O. particle, when I should have said topic marker

My information source is Bowring, Richard and Uryu-Laurie, Haruko: An introduction for Modern Japanese (Cambridge University Press 1992). Section 11.2 (pg. 110) states that words like old, new, red, expensive, small, etc. are adjectives in English but their Japanese counterparts are of a type of verb they call "descriptive", and are inflected as such. It goes on to state that these verbs are distinguished from other verbs because they all end in い (the text later defines stative verbs, which include most descriptive verbs, as verbs pertaining to condition: a state of need, a state of understanding, of capability, etc.).

Some of my confusion came from a later statement in that section: "...the descriptive verbs 大きい and 小さい sometimes [end in な] when used in the noun-modifying position." A careless reading of that passage caused me to confuse descriptive verbs and adjectival nouns, which Section 13.2 states modify other nouns by means of the な link, a form of the classical copula なる; hence, my misplaced reference to a な construction.

I apologize for the confusion. I will take your examples to heart and study my material more carefully.
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Re: newbie question: multiple possessives & adjectives

Postby kurisuto » Thu 10.08.2009 9:07 am

You may want to review what a direct object is :)

Here's a little tip : the direct object is the answer to "verb + who/what". It may be a little clearer with an example : "I bought a car" = "what did you buy ?" = "a car" ("a car" is the direct object of "bought") ; "I know him" = "who do you know ?" = "him". Notice that, in English, personal pronouns change when they're direct objects ("I" = "me", "he" = "him", etc.), athough they change in other situations too ("it's him").

In the phrase "a red car just passed in front of me", there's no direct object, but there is one in "I bought a red car". Either way, it doesn't influence the position of the adjective, be it in English or in Japanese. As I said, what's important is whether it's used as an attributive or as a predicative.

One last thing : the direct object marker is を, as in 赤い車を買いました (何を買いましたか = 赤い車).
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